Artistic Director of Theatre Royal Stratford East, Nadia Fall, today announces Lenny Henry to take on the role of Elmore in August Wilson’s King Hedley II as part of her inaugural season. This marks the first time Wilson’s work will be staged at Theatre Royal Stratford East.


In April, Theatre Royal Stratford East presents a Derby Theatre and Pilot Theatre co-production of Malorie Blackman’s novel Noughts and Crosses. Adapted by Sabrina Mahfouz and directed by Esther Richardson, the production opens at Stratford East on 24 April and running until 5 May.

The season concludes with a Theatre Royal Stratford East and ENO co-production of Benjamin Britten’s masterpiece Noye’s FluddeLyndsey Turner directs a new production which combines the talents of professional singers, actors and musicians with those of school children and the local community. The production opens on 3 July, with previews from 1 July and runs until 13 July.

Also going on sale today is the already announced co-production with English Touring Theatre of Peter Shaffer’s classic play Equus. Directed by Ned Bennett, the play opens on 21 February.

In addition, at every performance of every show over half of the tickets are priced under £25, with £10 tickets available for those aged under 26.

Artistic Director of Theatre Royal Stratford East, Nadia Fall, said today, “There’s just so much to get excited about as our 2019 shows go on sale today. I’m thrilled that Lenny Henry will be appearing at Theatre Royal Stratford East in August Wilson’s ferocious and timely play King Hedley II. Taking on the role of Elmore, this will be the first time that Lenny Henry has appeared on our stage and also the first time that the great August Wilson’s work has been performed here. Our co-production with English Touring Theatre of Peter Shaffer’s Equus also goes on sale today, re-imagined by the theatre maverick Ned Bennett, it’s sure to be the play as you’ve never seen it before. Young people have always been at the heart of Theatre Royal Stratford East and we hope that they and their families will enjoy Pilot Theatre’s production of Noughts and Crosses, from the celebrated novel by Malorie Blackman in a new adaptation by Sabrina Mahfouz. Our co-production with English National Opera of Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde, will see the brilliant Lyndsey Turner direct this joyous production, which combines the talents of professional artists alongside an army of local school children and community groups. It’s a brilliantly busy year ahead, designed to offer something for everyone.”


Theatre Royal Stratford East and English Touring Theatre present 


by Peter Shaffer

Directed by Ned Bennett

15 February – 23 March 2019

Press night: 21 February, 7pm

Award-winning director Ned Bennett brings Peter Shaffer’s psychological thriller Equus to the stage in a bold new production of the critically-acclaimed classic.

When teenager Alan Strang’s pathological fascination leads him to blind six horses, psychiatrist Dr. Martin Dysart is tasked with uncovering the motive behind the boy’s violent act. As Dysart delves into Alan’s world of twisted spirituality, passion and sexuality, he begins to question his own sanity and motivations in a world driven by consumerism.

Equus is a co-production between UK Theatre Award winners English Touring Theatre and Theatre Royal Stratford East.


Sir Peter Shaffers (1926 – 2016) plays include The Salt Land, The Prodigal Father, Balance of Terror, Five Finger Exercise (Evening Standard Drama Award), The Private Ear, The Public Eye, The Royal Hunt of the Sun, Black Comedy, White Lies, The Battle of Shrivings, Yonadab, The Gift of the Gorgon, Lettice and Lovage and Amadeus (Evening Standard Drama Award and Tony Award for Best Play)His plays adapted for film include Five Finger ExerciseThe Royal Hunt of the Sun, Equusand Amadeus (Academy Award for Best Picture), for television The Salt Land and Balance of Terror,and for radio The Prodigal Father and Whom Do I Have the Honour of Addressing?. In 1994, Shaffer was Visiting Professor of Contemporary Drama at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford. He was awarded the CBE in 1987 and was knighted in 2001.

Ned Bennett directs Equus. He is an award-winning theatre director, who trained at the Royal Court, the National Theatre and LAMDA. His work includes the Evening Standard Award-winning An Octoroon, which opened at the Orange Tree Theatre in Spring 2017 and will transfer to the Dorfman in Summer 2018, and Buggy Baby which opened at the Yard Theatre in March of this year. He directed the Bruntwood Prize-winning Yen at the Manchester Royal Exchange which transferred to the Royal Court in 2016, and Pomona which was commissioned by the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and transferred to the Orange Tree, and then to the National Theatre. Pomona and Yen won Bennett the UKT Best Director award 2015. Pomona won four Off-West End awards: Best Director, Best Production, Best New Play and Best Lighting Design.

English Touring Theatre is one of the UK’s leading touring companies, winning the UK Theatre Awards Best Touring Production in 2014, 2015 and 2016. ETT works with exciting artists to stage an eclectic mix of new and classic work for audiences throughout the UK and overseas; theatre that is thrilling, popular and engaged in the contemporary world. At the heart of everything ETT does is the passionately held belief that everyone, wherever they are in the country, deserves to have access to world class theatre. In 2017 ETT toured to 40 venues throughout the UK, with productions including Sam Holcroft’s Rules for Living, Richard Twyman’s critically acclaimed production of Othello and the 20th anniversary tour of The Weir, which finished its nationwide tour this year, winning the Manchester Theatre Award for Best Visiting Production. 2018 sees the company celebrate its 25th anniversary.​



Derby Theatre and Pilot Theatre present

Co-produced by Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Mercury Theatre Colchester and York Theatre Royal


By Malorie Blackman

Adapted by Sabrina Mahfouz

Directed by Esther Richardson

24 April – 5 May

Press night: 24 April, 7:30pm

“Why love, if losing hurts so much?”

Sephy and Callum sit together on a beach. They are in love.

It is forbidden.

Sephy is a Cross and Callum is a Nought. Between Noughts and Crosses there are racial and social divides. A segregated society teeters on a volatile knife edge.

As violence breaks out, Sephy and Callum draw closer, but this is a romance that will lead them into terrible danger.

This gripping Romeo and Juliet story by acclaimed writer Malorie Blackman and adapted by Sabrina Mahfouz is a captivating drama of love, revolution and what it means to grow up in a divided world.

Schools workshops and free online learning resources are available alongside this production. Please see pilot-theatre.com.

Sabrina Mahfouz is a playwright, poet and screenwriter. Her play With a Little Bit of Luck (Paines Plough) was broadcast on BBC1xtra and performed across the UK. Other theatre works include Chef (winner of a 2014 Fringe First Award), Dry Ice (nominated for Stage Award for Best Solo Performance) and Clean (Traverse Theatre and New York). Mahfouz has a published poetry collection, How You Might Know Me, was a contributor to The Good Immigrant and has edited The Things I Would Tell You. Her first play for children, Zeraffa Giraffa won Best Production for Young People at the Off West End Awards 2018 and she is currently writing a biopic of Wiley, the ‘godfather of grime’.

Malorie Blackman has written over 60 books for children and young adults, including the Noughts and Crosses series, Thief and most recently her science fiction thriller Chasing the Stars. Her work has also been adapted for TV with the 6-part adaptation of Pig-Heart Boy winning a BAFTA and Noughts and Crosses is currently in production for the BBC. In 2005, Blackman was honoured the Eleanor Farjeon Award in recognition of her distinguished contribution to the world of children’s books.  In 2008, she was awarded OBE and between 2013 and 2015 she was the Children’s Laureate.

Esther Richardson is the Artistic Director of Pilot Theatre. She has directed over 25 theatre productions in the UK, including her most recent production of Brighton Rock, adapted by Bryony Lavery. Esther was the founding Artistic Director of Theatre Writing Partnership – a new writing development company based in Nottingham UK (funded by the Lottery and ACE from 2001 to 2012). The company was nominated for the prestigious Stage/TMA’s Special Achievement in Regional Theatre Award when Esther was running the company in 2006. Her film work includes two successful shorts, which led her to be selected for Creative England’s ifeatures scheme in 2012/13.

Theatre Royal Stratford East present


By August Wilson

Directed by Nadia Fall

17 May – 16 June

Press night: 23 May, 7pm


1980s Pittsburgh, a city in decay. Against the backdrop of Reagan’s America, King, an ex-con, is trying to rebuild his life and start a family.  He’s got hopes and dreams of opening a video store and building a new life. If only he can get ten thousand dollars together, if only he can catch a break. In his dusty backyard he plots and plans with his friend Mister, but is this all a pipe dream?


Featuring Lenny Henry as smooth-talking hustler Elmore, August Wilson’s touching and angry, King Hedley II is a quest for redemption for one man and a whole community.

Lenny Henry has been a comedian since the age of 16. He has risen from being a cult star on children’s television to becoming one of Britain’s best-known comedians, as well as a writer, philanthropist and award-winning actor.  In recent years he has starred in The Comedy of Errors at The National Theatre, Fences at the Duchess Theatre, and in 2017 he made his Donmar Warehouse debut in The Resitable Rise of Arturo Ui. He has also been a Trustee of the National Theatre since February 2016. His television credits includeBroadchurchThe Syndicate and the biographic Danny and The Human Zoo. Henry’s Production Company, Douglas Road, has achieved success in partnership with Burning Bright on the recently acclaimed The Commonwealth Kid documentary. As a co-founder of Comic Relief he was delighted to announce this year that the British Public has donated over £1billion to Comic Relief over the last 30 years. He is a strong advocate for diversity, taking his work on the subject to Cannes in order to deliver the Keynote speech launching the idea of offering tax breaks for diversity, as well as talks given in Rome to the global TV and film insider audience. Henry was chosen by Baroness Doreen Lawrence to interview three beneficiaries of the Stephen Lawrence trust at his memorial in 2018.

August Wilson (1945–2005) was an American playwright. He won a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award for his play Fences and earned a second Pulitzer Prize for The Piano Lesson. His other notable works include Seven Guitars, Gem of the Ocean, Jitney and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.


Nadia Fall trained at Goldsmiths College (MA Directing) and on the NT Studio’s Directors programme. Her directing credits include The SuicideOur Country’s GoodDaraChewing Gum DreamsHomeHymnThe Doctor’s Dilemma (National Theatre), HirDisgraced (Bush Theatre), R and D (Hampstead Theatre), Way Upstream (Chichester Festival Theatre), Hobson’s Choice (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), How Was It For You? (Unicorn Theatre), Sticks & Stones (Polka Theatre), The Maids (Lyric Hammersmith), Miss Julie (Croydon Warehouse Theatre) and Wild Turkey (Site Specific). As Associate Director, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Gielgud Theatre), CollaboratorsThe Habit of Art (National Theatre); and as Staff Director, Rocket to the MoonReally Old, Like Forty FivePhèdre and Much Ado About Nothing (National Theatre). Fall has directed at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Unicorn Theatre and led participation initiatives with partners such as the Young Vic, Clean Break, Soho Theatre and the Royal Court. She is also an acting coach, supporting professional actors for film and stage.

Theatre Royal Stratford East and English National Opera present


By Benjamin Britten

Directed by Lyndsey Turner

1 July – 13 July

Press night: 3 July, 7pm


God is angry, and a flood is coming. But Noah is building a boat: wide enough and deep enough not just for his family, but for a cargo of birds and beasts, both great and small. For forty days and forty nights, this chorus of unlikely shipmates endure a mighty storm, in the hope that a new world will be waiting for them on the other side.


Lyndsey Turner directs a joyous new production of Benjamin Britten’s masterpiece combining the talents of professional singers, actors and musicians with those of school children and the local community. Marking the first collaboration between Theatre Royal Stratford East and English National Opera, Noye’s Fludde speaks of courage, redemption and the promise of a new beginning.


Benjamin Britten (1913 – 1976) was a British composer, pianist and conductor. The most significant British composer of the post-war period, Britten was the first British composer to devote the major part of his output to the operatic stage. Beginning with the international success of Peter Grimes in June 1945, his sixteen operas, which include chamber operas and works for children, are now considered repertory pieces. Other notable works include Paul BunyanBilly Budd and GlorianaThe Rape of LucretiaCurlew River and Death in Venice. Among Britten’s notable achievements outside the opera house were orchestral pieces such as the Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, Sinfonia da RequiemThe Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra,Spring Symphony and Symphony for Cello and Orchestra.

Lyndsey Turner’s previous work includes Philadelphia, Here I Come!Fathers and Sons, and Faith Healer (Donmar Warehouse), Girls and Boys (Royal Court), Tipping The Velvet (Lyric Hammersmith), Hamlet (Barbican), Chimerica (Almeida & West End), Saint George and the DragonLight Shining in BuckinghamshireEdgar and AnnabelThere is a War (National Theatre).


English National Opera believes that opera of the highest quality should be accessible to everyone.

A national company of international standard, ENO forges ground-breaking collaborations across art forms, and our world-class productions inspire, surprise, and captivate. We sing in English and believe that singing in our own language connects the performers and the audience to the drama onstage and enhances the experience for all. ENO performs a wide repertoire of opera from classic favourites and seminal works, to contemporary titles and brand new commissions. In 2017 we staged the World Premieres of operas Marnieand The Winter’s Tale. With 2,359 seats, our home, the iconic London Coliseum on St Martin’s Lane, is the largest theatre in London. It was designed for Sir Oswald Stoll by Frank Matcham, the leading theatre architect of his day. Between April 2016 and July 2017, 346,400 people came to enjoy an ENO performance either at the London Coliseum or at another venue in London. In addition, more than 188,000 people saw an ENO co-production outside of the UK. It is central to ENO’s mission to ensure that price is never a barrier for people wanting to enjoy great opera. 42,500 tickets at £20* or less are available for performances across ENO’s 2018/19 season (around 23% of tickets to every show) and we provide great seats at significantly reduced prices to Under 30s and full-time students through our Access All Arias scheme.

We nurture talent across the entire company, whether on-stage, backstage, or in the pit; and we provide a platform for young singers to develop global careers. 80% of ENO singers and conductors are British born/trained/resident.

 For more information on ENO and our upcoming productions, please visit eno.org

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical Review

New Wimbledon Theatre, London – until May 26th

Reviewed by Sabrina Fancy


Beautiful is the story of Carole King, one of the most celebrated singer/songwriters of all time. The story itself tells of how Carole King met her husband Gerry Goffin at 16 and got pregnant. They became musical partners composing and writing lyrics together for different artists and bands at the time. Gerry who is Carole’s husband drifts away and has several affairs as he resents living a domestic life they eventually divorce. The story progresses into Carole moving finding her confidence and inner strength to perform her own music live, launching a solo career with her debut album Tapestry, which won four Grammys and has sold millions of copies worldwide.

The storyline was heart-warming story, but nothing dramatic. What sets this production apart are the performances which are outstanding and the songs are incredibly performed. I thought that the vocals were brilliant but for me the standout performances were by the shows leads.

Bronte Barbe has amazing vocals and stage presence. She has many theatre credits and was also a finalist in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Over the Rainbow’ on the BBC. Gerry Goffin played by Kane Oliver Parry was previously in ‘ We will Rock you.’ and ‘ Urinetown’ always had me looking forward to when he would come on stage. The roles of Carole’s best friends Cynthia Weil (played by Amy Ellen Richardson) and Barry Mann (Matthew Gonsalves) were also very well executed with strong vocals.

I never realized how many songs Carol King was behind- 30 hit songs from the 60s and 70’s and many for famous artists. While I was not a part of this era I still recognized almost all of the songs which made the performance so much more enjoyable. Some of these hits include such hits included ‘ The Locomotion’ originally performed by Little Eva and later remade by Kylie Minogue, ‘ Take good care of my baby’ performed by Bobby Vee and ‘ You’ve

Lost that Loving Feeling’ performed by the righteous brothers. Classic songs included ‘ You make me feel (Like a natural women), You’ve got a friend and It might as well rain until September.

I loved the diversity of the cast and the costumes, while not elaborate were pretty and very reminiscent of the time. I loved how songs were cleverly weaved in to tell the story seamlessly. I found this musical to be quite empowering with an important message that even in complete despair, one can rise from the ashes and that makes you beautiful.

All in all, this was a great musical with outstanding cast performances, musical excellence and a great story. I highly recommend this production at the New Wimbledon theatre which is charming in itself and very accessible.

If you’re down and troubled and needing a helping hand do not miss the opportunity to see Beautiful at the New Wimbledon theatre.

This House Review

Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford – until 26th May

Reviewed by Heather Chalkley


A fast past tale of political shenanigans in the hallowed realms of the houses of parliament. Although staying true to the events of the government of 1974 – 79, a lot of artistic licence has been thrown in to provide humour and show human vulnerabilities. The author, James Graham, researched at length the hung parliament of that time, capturing 5 years of unique political history in little more than 2.5 hours! Wow!

Having grown up through the 70’s it was like stepping back in time, particularly the attitude towards women. The necessary strength of character of the women MPs shone through, with Labour whip Ann Taylor (Natalie Grady) and the Coventry South West MP Audrey Wise (Louise Ludgate). Male counterparts tripped over themselves to behave in their presence, whilst the women ‘found their balls’ and were more than equally matched. One of my favourite scenes is of MP Audrey Wise travelling to Westminster, to supposedly sign an apology for not towing the party line and instead slowly and steadily layed out the £20 fine, coin by coin!

The play gives you a fantastic insight into the workings of the whips office and how it makes or breaks a government. Labour Chief Whip Bob Mellish (Martin Marquez) spelled out to the newby Ann Taylor that yes she is the token female, however they all have a role within a role, whether its himself as the token cockney or Deputy Chief Whip Walter Harrison (James Gaddas) as the token northerner. They were trying to be representative! James Gaddas as the Deputy Chief Whip gave an exemplary performance, showing northern grit and a very human commitment to tradition and the party.

The hung parliament was so close that every single Labour vote for each bill counted and all the ‘others’ had to be courted and bribed into siding with them. The portrayal of Irish, Scottish and Welsh MP’s was hilarious, with all Whips on both sides running themselves ragged to solicit their votes. Labour as the working class brassy pint drinkers and Conservatives as cool as cucumber public school boys. In the darkest days, historical traditions such as ‘Pairing’ and ‘The Usual Channels’ were closed down by the Tory whips, so aged and near death Labour members had to be shipped in from all compass points in order to get the slimmest of wins. Hilarious and macabre scenes of heart attacks and suicide attempts delivered the intense pressure of the time.

The use of music to illustrate each decade was inspired and funny, especially the punk rocker V signs thrown out by the players! They were housed in the balcony of the Commons. The whole set was an impressive depiction of the House of Commons, including seats on either side for a few audience members to sit. The massive Speakers chair slide elegantly in and out of the back, making way for the two whips offices. The creative team have to be commended. The use of movement and music throughout gave the piece pace and intensity. The Ensemble were fluid and expert in their delivery. Added to this was the Speaker of the House (Miles Richardson/Orlando Wells) announcing with gravitas each MP as they entered the stage, forever present in the background.

The reflections of what we are experiencing in present day politics cannot be denied and adds a different dimension for the viewer. However, regardless of whether politics is your thing, I would thoroughly recommend This House: it has enough drama, humour and pace to entertain any audience.

Martin Kemp to star in CHICAGO in London






Martin Kemp will star as smooth-talking lawyer Billy Flynn in the multi award-winning CHICAGO at the Phoenix Theatre in London’s West End from Monday 2 July for a limited season until Saturday 1 September 2018.  The rest of the cast who will be appearing alongside Martin Kemp are still to be announced. 


Martin Kemp’s acting credits include Reggie Kray alongside his brother Gary as Ronnie Kray in the film The Krays, Steve Owen in EastEnders, and Sam Phillips in the UK tour of Million Dollar Quartet.  He is also, of course, one quarter of the band Spandau Ballet, and his book, True – An Autobiography of Martin Kemp, spent several months in The Sunday Times best sellers list.  He also appeared as a judge on the BBC’s Let It Shine, alongside Dannii Minogue and Gary Barlow.


Following a successful UK and international tour, and after a 5½-year absence from London, the multi award-winning Kander & Ebb musical CHICAGO, winner of six Tony Awards, two Olivier Awards and a Grammy, began performances at the Phoenix Theatre in London on Monday 26 March, with a press night on Wednesday 11 April.  The current booking period is until 6 October 2018. 


The cast for the first booking period, from 26 March to 30 June 2018, is led by Cuba Gooding Jr, Sarah Soetaert, Josefina Gabrielle, Ruthie Henshall and Paul Rider as Billy Flynn, Roxie Hart, Velma Kelly, Mama Morton and Amos Hart respectively.


CHICAGO originally ran in London for 15 years, making it the West End’s longest running revival.  It first opened at the Adelphi Theatre on 18 November 1997 to rave reviews and immediately became a sell-out hit.  CHICAGO won the 1998 Laurence Olivier Award for ‘Outstanding Musical Production’ as well as the 1998 Critics Circle Drama Award for ‘Best Musical’.  CHICAGO transferred from the Adelphi Theatre to the Cambridge Theatre in April 2006, where it ran for five years until 27 August 2011.  The show then opened at the Garrick Theatre on 7 November 2011, where it ran until 1 September 2012.


Since it opened in New York in 1996, CHICAGO has played in 36 countries worldwide, and been performed in English, Dutch, German, Swedish, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Italian, French, Danish, Japanese and Korean.  It has grossed over $1.5 billion worldwide and has played over 32,500 performances worldwide, with an estimated 31 million people around the world having seen CHICAGO. 

CHICAGO continues to play on Broadway, where it celebrated its 21st birthday last year, and around the world in multiple languages.  It is the world’s longest running American musical.

CHICAGO, which is based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins, has a book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb.  The 1996 Broadway revival of CHICAGO was choreographed by Ann Reinking in the style of Bob Fosse, directed by Walter Bobbie, and produced by Barry and Fran Weissler.




Phoenix Theatre
110 Charing Cross Road
London WC2H 0JP

Box Office: 0844 871 7629 / www.atgtickets.com/shows/chicago/phoenix-theatre

Ticket Prices: From £20.00

Performances: Monday-Saturday 8pm to 23 June, 7.30pm from 25 June, Wednesday & Saturday 3pm

Booking Period:  Currently Booking Until 6 October 2018

Running Time:  2 hours, 25 minutes (with interval)

Website: ChicagoWestEnd.com
Twitter: @ChicagoOnStage

Titanic The Musical Review

Sheffield Lyceum – until 26 May 2018


I’ll be honest, I have a soft spot for Titanic the Musical.  It’s one of my favourites and Maury Yeston’s musical score is one of the most beautiful in any show.  Danielle Tarento’s production hi-lights the superb cast of voices and this show is particular is just begging to be made into a soundtrack CD.

This is, however, very much an ensemble piece with no one star.  The whole cast work well together and you find yourself hoping that all will survive as you become so invested in the characters.  There are some stand out moments though – the delight on the face of Alice Beane (Claire Machin) as she manages to dance with the rich and famous of the day after sneaking into the First Class only Tea Dance.  Ida and Isidor Straus dressing up in the finest clothes and dancing tight in each other’s arms knowing death was imminent but refusing to give up each other after a lifetime together. The needless suicide of William Murdoch (Keiran Brown) after he blamed himself for the disaster.  The relentless cheerfulness of the Bell Boy (Lewis Cornay) and Lightoller (the outstandingly vocal Alistair Barron) taking over to try and salvage the ship, crew and passengers in the face of disaster.

Titanic is one of the most iconic stories of the last century: a terrible misadventure which cost some 1517 lives, thanks to the inadequate provision of lifeboats to make room for more first class accommodation, while the third class passengers below decks found themselves prevented from accessing the lifeboats at all.  The outcome of this makes for a particularly powerful scene in Act 2, with ship designer Thomas Andrews (Greg Castiglioni), Captain Edward Smith (Philip Rham) and ship owner J.Bruce Ismay (Simon Green) singing and refusing to take “The Blame”.

Despite knowing the ultimate ending the actual ending, discovering who lived and who died is incredibly powerful and the list of the dead that comes down at the end brings home the fact that is a real tragedy that just maybe could been averted in different circumstances.

Titanic the Musical is an emotional powerhouse of a show.  Take plenty of tissues because you will need them, I was in tears from “Godspeed Titanic” in Act 1 and could barely see the stage for tears by the reprise in Act 2.

In Sheffield until Saturday 26 May and on tour around the UK this is a show that must not be missed





A Nuffield Southampton Theatres workshop production in association with The Other Palace


Book by Richard Marsh

Music by Miranda Cooper and Nick Coler; Lyrics by Miranda Cooper and Richard Marsh

Directed by Samuel Hodges


Based on a Film by Garth Jennings. Presented by Special Arrangement with Nick Goldsmith andParamount Pictures.

24 May – 2 June

At The Other Palace, London

Full casting is today announced for Nuffield Southampton Theatres workshop production of Son of Rambow – The Musical, running at The Other Palace from 24 May – 2 June. Director of NST, Samuel Hodges, directs Gemma Goggin (Miss Smith), Scarlet Billham (Tina), Tom Mccall (Barry), Jon Tarcy (Didier), Richard Dempsey (Brother Joshua), Cat Simmons (Sarah) and Felix Warren as Will and Aaron Gelkoff as Lee. Son of Rambow – The Musical is an adaptation of the hit cult film featuring an original 80s pop soundtrack by two of the UK’s most successful pop writers Miranda Cooper and Nick Coler with the book by Richard Marsh. This marks Cooper and Coler’s debut in writing for the stage.

Son of Rambow is a work in progress production working with feedback from the audience each day.

Winter 1982. Two boys are about to form an unlikely friendship.


Will Proudfoot is a member of the Plymouth Brethren, forbidden from watching TV or films. Lee Carter is the wild child, school trouble-maker. When Lee blows Will’s mind with a pirate copy of Rambo: First Blood, this unlikely pair collaborate on a homemade sequel.

Their movie changes the lives of all around them – Will’s recently-widowed mum, Sarah and family friend Joshua. Lee’s brother Barry fights for the love of his girlfriend Tina, who must choose between him, university or French exchange sexpot, Didier.

Based on the cult hit film, Son of Rambow is a heart-warming and hilarious story about two boys with a big video camera and even bigger ambitions.

Scarlet Billham plays Tina. Her credits for theatre include Morning (Lyric Theatre/Traverse Theatre), Super Skinny Bitches (Theatre Royal Stratford East), Take A Deep BreathBreathe (Ovalhouse Theatre) and Alice By Heart (Lyric Theatre).


Richard Dempsey plays Brother Joshua. Rothschild and Sons (Park Theatre), Strictly Ballroom (WYP/Princess of Wales Theatre, Toronto/Global Creatures), Damsel in Distress (Chichester Festival Theatre), Charlie and The Chocolate Factory (Theatre Royal Drury Lane), A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Just So/ Out of this world (Noel Coward Theatre), Victor/Victoria (Southwark Playhouse), Me And My Girl (Sheffield Crucible), The Merchant of Venice (BAM New York/World Tour), Citizenship (National Theatre), Dirty Dancing (Original West End Cast), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (RSC/Schubert Theatre, New Haven USA), Peepshow (Frantic Assembly), Honk! (National Theatre UK Tour), The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe (RSC), The Dance Of Death (Tricycle Theatre), Into The Woods (Original West End Cast) and Fame (Original West End Cast). His television credits include, Downton AbbeyDraculaDoc MartinLadies of LettersEgyptIsland At WarWarlockCleopatraWives And DaughtersAristocratsScarlet PimpernelTilly TrotterThe Prince Of HeartsCrimetravellerWycliffeInspector AlleynAnna LeeDon’t Leave Me This WaySherlock HolmesThe Chronicles of Narnia; and for film, Warlock24 Hours In LondonThe Barber Of Siberia and The Prince Of Jutland.

Gemma Goggin plays Miss Smith. Her theatre credits include Don Quixote, Dr Faustus (RSC), The Merry Wives of Windsor (Neuss Globe, Germany/Upstairs at the Gatehouse), Hobson’s Choice (Basingstoke Theatre Royal), Wasted (Pleasance Theatre) and Piaf (Rose and Crowne, Walthamstow). In addition, she also works as a stand-up comic with works including Get Laid or Die TryingCelebrity Sleepover and Gemma Goggin: Double G (Gilded Balloon/Leicester Square Theatre). Her film credits include Teeth and PillsThe Young Victoria and AngusThongs and Perfect Snogging.


Tom McCall plays Barry. His theatre credits include Queen of Carthage (RSC), Titus, Julius CaesarDoctor Faustus (RSC, The Barbican), Don QuixoteThe Alchemist (RSC, The Barbican), Oppenheimer(Vaudeville Theatre), Shoemakers HolidayOppenheimer (RSC), Hag (Soho Theatre and national tour), This Happy Breed (Peter Hall season, Theatre Royal Bath), Ragnarok (Eastern Angles – Hush House), Baba Yaga (Bristol Old Vic), Pants on Fire’s Ovids Metamorphosis (Flea Theatre New York/UK tour), Freddie Hearts Freddie (Southwark Playhouse), The Gift (Old Vic), Smile (Arcola Theatre), Almost Near (Finborough Theatre), Potholes (Theatre 503) and Inches Apart (Theatre 503). His television credits include Black MirrorWallanderThe MusketeersThe Intern; and for film, Death and Taxes and Bloodshot.

Jon Tarcy plays Didier. His theatre credits include Julius Caesar, Antony & CleopatraTitus Andronicus (RSC/Barbican), Tale Of Two Cities (Northampton UK tour), King John (Rose Theatre Kingston) and West Side Story (NYMT). His television credits include West Side StorySound of Music: Live!Lucky Man and Life in Black.


Cat Simmons plays Sarah. Her theatre credits include Jesus Christ SuperstarWhistle Down The Wind (Aldwych Theatre), Fame! (Cambridge Theatre), Simply HeavenlyBeen So Long (Young Vic), And I And SilenceAmerica Visions Of LoveWe Happy FewAladdin (Old Vic), Lady in the Van(Theatre Royal Bath), One Love (Birmingham Rep), Sweet Charity (Manchester Royal Exchange), Hopelessly Devoted (Paines Plough), Decade (Headlong Theatre), Oliver! (National tour), Macbeth (Shakespeare’s Globe). Her television credits include series regular Emma in the hit BBC1 drama Ordinary Lies, series regular as DC Kezia Walker in The Bill and as Scarlett Anderson in Family Affairs. Other TV credits include Moving OnMidsomer MurdersTubby and Enid VeraGirl’s WeekendBig CHolby CityNo Angels and Children’s Ward. Simmons also played Sista Twista in the feature film Life And Lyrics.

Nick Coler is a British songwriter. His credits alongside Miranda Cooper include 35 top 10 hits for acts such as Girls Aloud, The Sugababes, Gabriella Cilmi, Alesha Dixon and numerous other artists. In addition, he co-wrote a song with Alastair Lloyd Webber for Starlight Express as well as numerous films and TV shows including Wayne’s World where he wrote Feed my Frankenstein. He has also been nominated three times for an Ivor Novello Award and has won producer of the year.

Miranda Cooper is a British songwriter who has worked in the music industry since 1996 when she signed an artist deal to Warner Records. In 1997, she began to collaborate with Brian Higgins, the founder of Kent-based songwriting and production team Xenomania. They struck instant and lasting commercial success and critical acclaim with their productions for Girls Aloud, Sugababes, Kylie Minogue, Alesha Dixon, Gabriella Cilmi and the Pet Shop Boys. She has penned four UK Number One hits – Round RoundSound of the UndergroundHole in the Head and The Promiseas well as 20 consecutive top 10 singles for Girls Aloud. Beginning a new chapter in her writing career, Cooper is currently writing and developing three musicals, including Son of Rambow(NST/The Other Palace) and the hugely popular Billionaire Boy by David Walliams (NST). As well as the musicals, Cooper continues to innovate with her pop songwriting, currently collaborating with the YouTube sensation and recent Atlantic Records signing Maisie Peters who is set for undoubted success.

Richard Marsh is a writer and performer. His one-man play Skittles was commissioned for Radio 4 as Love & Sweets and won Best Scripted Comedy in the BBC Audio Drama Awards. Dirty Great Love Story won a Fringe First at the Edinburgh Fringe before transferring to Bristol Old Vic, Soho Theatre and 59E59 Theatres, NYC, and most recently to the Arts Theatre. Wingman played to critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe before touring the UK and to LA and is in development for TV. He wrote the Radio 4 poetry comedy series Cardboard Heart and his poetry can currently be heard in the national tour of Tango Moderno. He is a former London poetry slam champion and was a member of Theatre503’s 503/5 writers group.

Samuel Hodges is Director of Nuffield Southampton Theatres (NST). His productions for NST includes The Shadow FactoryDedication – Shakespeare and Southampton, following The Glass Menagerie in 2015. Previously he founded the HighTide Festival Theatre in 2007 and was the Artistic Director for five years, during which time he produced over 25 new plays, co-producing with the National Theatre, The Old Vic and the Bush Theatre, amongst others. Between 2012 and 2014, he ran the Criterion Theatre in London’s West End, for whom he curated a late-night programme and a one-off summer season of new work to celebrate the London Olympics.

Nuffield Southampton Theatres is one of the UK’s leading professional theatre companies. The company is led by Samuel Hodges, supported by a team of associates: directors Blanche McIntyre, Natalie Abrahami and Michael Longhurst, designer Tom Scutt, playwright Adam Brace, choreographer Drew McOnie and poet Inua Ellams. NST develops and produces work with some of the UK’s most exciting and dynamic regional theatres. In 2016/17 290,000 people saw an NST production across all 9 regions of the UK. NST won Best Director at UK Theatre Awards 2014 (The Seagull), Regional Theatre of the Year at The Stage Awards 2015, Best Design at UK Theatre Awards 2015 (The Hudsucker Proxy) and the 2017 Renee Stepham UK Theatre Award for Best Presentation of Touring Theatre (Fantastic Mr Fox).


NST City is Nuffield Southampton Theatres brand new venue just opened in Southampton’s city centre. The new theatre will run alongside their existing theatre NST Campus situated on the Highfield Campus at the University of Southampton.

Nuffield Southampton Theatres is an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation and a registered charity, receiving additional core funding from the University of Southampton and Southampton City Council.



The Other Palace opened in February 2017 as a new home for musical theatre. The venue aims to discover, develop and reimagine musicals. The team want the spaces to be used to nurture the next generation of musicals, and the creatives behind them; celebrating the very best of the art form, from the established to the brand new.


‘The Other Palace’s Development Programme’ has been created to identify, explore, encourage and support musicals at every stage of their journey. The venue will be offering creatives space, time and resources; enabling them to explore and test their work, both privately and with an audience.

For audience members, The Other Palace’s Development Programme offers the opportunity to see new shows in their infancy and be part of the process, providing the creative team with invaluable feedback.

The Other Palace Work in Progress series offers productions a short residency at the venue which allows companies to create, develop and explore their work. These residencies will include a number of public sharings where audience feedback will be collected to inform the next stage of the project’s development. The ambition is that these productions will have a future life either at The Other Palace or beyond.






Theatrical charity Acting for Others today announces that £9,500 was raised at the fourth annual West End Bake Off last weekend; breaking all previous records for monies raised at this event, which has become a calendar marked day for shows in the West End. The same day His Royal Highness Prince Harry married Meghan Markle, top West End shows brought cake creations to be judged by Christopher BigginsWendi Peters and Ruthie Henshall.

Taking the crown this year was Young Frankenstein beating 17 other shows including The Lion King, Mamma Mia! and last year’s winners 42nd Street. This year saw the companies go all out to celebrate the Royal Wedding, there was a Royal carriage adorning the Les Misérables stand, The Comedy About a Bank Robbery had the blue prints to Buckingham Palace with a plan to steal the crown jewels and a wedding dress cake from Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.


Stars of the show also popped in to show their support including Cuba Gooding Jr and an impromptu auction took place with Cleve September and Michael Jibson selling limited edition Hamilton t-shirts signed by the company.

West End Bake Off is supported by Official London Theatre and Mackintosh Foundation.


www.westendbakeoff.com        Twitter: @westendbakeoff        Facebook: Westendbakeoff   

www.actingforothers.co.uk        Twitter: @ActingForOthers




The Stephen Sondheim Society and Mercury Musical Developments today announce Welsh actress Di Botcher as the special guest performer at the 12th annual West End Gala for The Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year and the 11th anniversary of The Stiles + Drewe Prize.

Botcher will reprise her show-stopping performance of the Sondheim classic ‘Broadway Baby’ from the National Theatre’s acclaimed, Olivier Award-winning revival of Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman’s Follies. She is perhaps best known to TV audiences as Aunty Brenda in Ruth Jones’s hit comedy-drama Stellaand recently made her debut as series regular paramedics boss, Jan Jennings in the popular, long-running medical drama Casualty.

The 2018 competition is being staged at the Savoy Theatre on Sunday 10th June at 3pm, hosted by Olivier Award winner Tracie BennettChris Hocking returns to direct the annual gala, with musical direction by Mark Etherington.

In addition, the London Musical Theatre Orchestra will orchestrate the winning song of the Stiles & Drewe Best New Song Prize and perform it at one of their private play-throughs in Autumn 2018.

Freddie Tapner, Founder and Conductor of London Musical Theatre Orchestra, said today, “LMTO are delighted that we can offer this opportunity to the winner of the Stiles & Drewe Prize. As a composer, there is nothing more thrilling than hearing your work performed by a full orchestra, and we can’t wait to give that experience to someone this year. Good luck to all entrants!”

This annual competition, co-produced by The Stephen Sondheim Society and Mercury Musical Developments, sees twelve of the top student performers from musical theatre and drama schools across the UK each perform a classic song by Stephen Sondheim and a new musical theatre song, written by members of Mercury Musical Developments. The first prize is £1,000. Writer and broadcaster Edward Seckerson returns to Chair the Student Performer judges with Rebecca Caine (the original Cosette in Les Miserables, and Christine in the original London and Canadian companies of The Phantom of the Opera), Rebecca Trehearn(Olivier Award winner for the recent London run of Showboat), Stephen Ridley (Musical Director for American in Paris and The King and I) and David Benedict (Sondheim’s official biographer).

The Stiles + Drewe Prize supports and develops new musical theatre writing via its two distinct arms. Recognising an outstanding song from a new musical and supported by The Entertainment Business, the winner of Best New Song receives £1,000 to put towards developing their work. Judging the Best New Song entries with Stiles and Drewe will be Sharon D Clarke (Caroline, or Change, The Lion King, We Will Rock You) and writer/director Susie McKenna (former Creative Director of Hackney Empire).


In addition, the winner of the Stiles and Drewe Mentorship Award – now in its third year, generously supported by Music Theatre International (Europe) – will also be announced at the Gala. One new musical and its writer(s) will be selected to receive mentorship over a 12-month period, culminating in an industry showcase. Along with Stiles and Drewe, the 2018 judges were composer Grant Olding, the Artistic Director of Royal & Derngate James Dacre and Chichester Festival Theatre’s producer Amelia Ferrand-Rook. A song from each of the three finalist shows will be performed at the event.





  • OLIVIA VINALL and EDWARD HOGG take the roles of Rosalind and Orlando
  • KEZIAH JOSEPH and BERUCE KHAN play Celia and Oliver
  • DANNY KIRRANE plays Touchstone with MAUREEN BEATTIE as Jaques
  • Directed by MAX WEBSTER, original music is by CHARLIE FINK


Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre have today announced casting for As You Like It. Directed by Max Webster, the production plays 06 July – 28 July.

Olivia Vinall and Edward Hogg take the roles of Rosalind and Orlando, with Keziah Joseph and Beruce Khan in the roles of Celia and Oliver. Danny Kirrane plays Touchstone with Maureen Beattie as Jaques.

With original music by former ‘Noah and Whale’ frontman Charlie Fink, also joining the cast are Amy Booth-Steel (Audrey/Singer), Me’sha Bryan (Amiens/Singer), Joanne McGuinness (Phoebe/Singer), Jacade Simpson (Silvius/Singer), Jack Beale (Le Beau/Actor Musician) and Silas Wyatt-Barke(William/Actor Musician).

Completing the cast are: Simon Armstrong (Duke Fredrick/Duke Senior), Gary Lilburn (Adam/Martext), Kristian Phillips (Charles the Wrestler/Jaques De Boys) and John Stahl (Corin).

In the mythical Forest of Arden, a world of transformation where anything is possible and anything permissible, two young people discover what it really means to be in love. This warm, open-hearted production promises adventure, sibling rivalry, mistaken identity and romance – Shakespeare comedy as you like it.



Olivia Vinall (Rosalind) recently played the dual roles of Laura Fairlie and Anne Catherick in BBC1’s new adaptation of The Woman in White. Previous credits include The Chekhov Trilogy (Chichester Festival/National Theatre) in the roles of Nina (The Seagull), Sofya (Platonov) and Sasha (Ivanov); Hilary in The Hard Problem, Cordelia in King Lear, and Desdemona in Othello (National Theatre) and, on television, Maigret and Apple Tree Yard.


Edward Hogg (Orlando) recently appeared as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet at Shakespeare’s Globe, where he has also appeared in The God of SohoMeasure for MeasureThe Tempest and The Storm. Other credits include Our ClassThe Pillowman (National Theatre); Pictures from an ExhibitionOur Country’s Good (Young Vic); Rock ‘n’ Roll (Royal Court/Duke of Yorks) and King Lear (RSC). Films include Once Upon a Time in WarsawAdult Life SkillsMary Queen of ScotsThe Comedian and White Lightnin’. Television credits include HarlotsTabooIndian Summers, and Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.


Keziah Joseph (Celia) recently played Mowgli in The Jungle Book (UK Tour). Previous theatre credits include Kanye the First (HighTide Tour) and Silver Lining (Rose Theatre, Kingston).

Beruce Khan (Oliver) previously appeared at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in Henry V. Other recent credits include Feste in Twelfth Night and John Forster/Young Marley in A Christmas Carol (RSC); Hamlet(Shakespeare’s Globe International Tour); Romeo and JulietWhat You Will: Pop Up Shakespeare (Shakespeare’s Globe); The Madness of George IIIThe History Boys (UK Tour) and The Black Album (National Theatre).

Danny Kirrane (Touchstone) previously appeared in A Little Hotel on the Side (Theatre Royal Bath); Three Sisters (Young Vic); BoysRomeo and Juliet (Headlong); The History Boys (National Theatre) and Jerusalem(Royal Court/Apollo/Broadway). Television credits include PoldarkGame of ThronesWastedDoctor Thorneand New Blood, with film credits including Peterloo, directed by Mike Leigh, and Pirates of the Caribbean.


Maureen Beattie (Jaques) has appeared extensively at the RSC, including The HistoriesTitus Andronicus and Macbeth, and recently appeared in The Ferryman (Gielgud), Yerma (Young Vic) and Neaptide (National Theatre). She also appeared in The Cherry Orchard, and Max Webster’s production of The Winter’s Tale (Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh).


Simon Armstrong (Duke Fredrick/Duke Senior) has appeared in The Winter’s TalePericles and Hamlet (Tour) for Shakespeare’s Globe, with television credits including Game of Thrones and The Hollow CrownGary Lilburn (Adam/Martext) has appeared in The Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer Night’s Dream(Shakespeare’s Globe); The Cripple of Inishmaan (Michael Grandage Company); Calendar Girls (Chichester Festival/West End); The Weir (Royal Court) and in the film PhilomenaKristian Phillips (Charles the Wrestler/Jaques De Boys) appeared in Richard III (Almeida); as Lennie in Of Mice and Men (Birmingham Rep/UK Tour) and Season’s Greetings (Theatre Clwyd). John Stahl (Corin) has appeared regularly at the RSC, Shakespeare’s Globe and Traverse Theatre, and recently appeared in Max Webster’s production of The Winter’s Tale (Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh). Film credits include Mary Queen of Scots directed by Josie Rouke, and Victoria and Abdul.

Amy Booth-Steel (Audrey/Singer) appeared in Anita and Me (Birmingham Rep); Betty Blue Eyes (Mercury Theatre/West Yorkshire Playhouse) and The Light Princess and One Man Two Guvnors (National Theatre). Me’sha Bryan (Amiens/Singer) recently appeared as The Washing Machine in Caroline or Change (Chichester Festival/Hampstead), Joanne McGuinness (Phoebe/Singer) in Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour (National Theatre/Melbourne Festival) and Jacade Simpson (Silvius/Singer) in The Book of Mormon (Prince of Wales). Jack Beale (Le Beau/Actor Musician) played the Guy in Once (Phoenix) and appeared in The Lorax (Old Vic); Spend, Spend, Spend (The Watermill) and Brief Encounter (UK Tour/Kneehigh). Silas Wyatt-Barke(William/Actor Musician) appeared in The Lorax (Old Vic); Forty Years On (Chichester Festival) and Sunny Afternoon (Harold Pinter).


As You Like It is directed by Max Webster, with design by Naomi Dawson. Movement direction is by Polly Bennett, original music composed by Charlie Fink, lighting design by Lee Curran, sound design by Gareth Fry, casting by Lotte Hines and musical direction and arrangements by Phil Bateman. The Season Associate Director (Voice & Text) is Barbara Houseman.


Other productions in the 2018 season at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre are Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (until 15 June), Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw in a co-production with English National Opera (22 – 30 June), Dinosaur World Live for ages 3+ (14 August – 09 September) and the mean green monster musical, Little Shop of Horrors (03 August – 15 September). There’s MOREoutdoor on Sundays with The Guilty Feminist (15 July), Joe Lycett (22 July), Jimmy Carr (12 August), Simon Amstell (19 August), and The Luna Cinema presents screenings of Spice World (26 August), The Greatest Showman (02 September) and Alien (09 September).

The Last Ship announces that Spiller’s Wharf performance on Monday 28 May is cancelled.



A unique one-off outdoor performance of The Last Ship in Newcastle that was due to be held on Bank Holiday Monday has been cancelled, it has been announced.

A performance of The Last Ship – which has music and lyrics by Sting – was to play at Spillers Wharf, Newcastle Quayside on Monday 28 May, with Sting due to perform alongside the cast.

However the performance will no longer be going ahead, it has been announced today.

Karl Sydow, producer of The Last Ship, said: “After weeks of negotiations and the failure to secure a signed agreement which would protect the artistic standards of the production the producers have lost all confidence in the integrity and ability of the local promoter. It is of paramount importance to us that the quality and artistic integrity of the performance at Spiller’s Wharf would be what we and the audience would expect and we do not have the necessary confidence that this would be delivered following the consistent failure of the local promoter to meet any of his undertakings with regard to our production. Therefore we have reached the unfortunate conclusion that we have no alternative but to cancel the performance.

“We thank all of the ticket purchasers and apologise for the disappointment and inconvenience that this cancellation may cause.”

Ticketholders are advised to contact their point of purchase for a refund.

The critically-acclaimed UK and Ireland tour of The Last Ship is running until 7 July, where it will finish at The Lowry, Salford, with dates in Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow and York before then.

The Last Ship is produced by Karl Sydow and Kathryn Schenker with Northern Stage.